'The NFL Beat': Real Talk With Amos Lee

On 'Shady' McCoy, PPR vs. non-PPR, and more

Lee's latest from Blue Note Records, 'Mission Bell,' would make for an excellent holiday gift.
Lee's latest from Blue Note Records, 'Mission Bell,' would make for an excellent holiday gift.

Welcome back to 'The NFL Beat' fantasy friends. I’m an Austin musician who has teamed up with an unlikely crew of degenerate geniuses to create a certified fantasy football juggernaut.

This week I’m taking a step out of our proverbial dark basement of geekdom to catch up with one of our friends, the talented musician and fantasy football guru Amos Lee. (It is a smelly basement. The Trashman eats a lot of Indian food.)

Lee has created a monster of his own and it is called the Millenium Ducats. In the battleground that is the 2011 RedLighters League, the 9-2 Ducats are the runaway points leaders, and the only team that has my mighty KCChiefs shaking in their combat boots. Thankfully, we will not have to face Amos again until the championship as we will likely get the second of two first-round byes.

Here is his team:
QB: Tim Tebow (DEN), Carson Palmer (OAK)
RB: LeSean McCoy (PHI), Fred Jackson (BUF), DeMarco Murray (DAL)
WR: Calvin Johnson (DET), Larry Fitzgerald (ARI)
TE: Rob Gronkowski (NE)
Bench: James Starks (RB-GB), Santonio Holmes (WR-NYJ), C.J. Spiller (RB-BUF), Jahvid Best (RB-DET), and Felix Jones (RB-DAL)

Austin Chronicle: You've assembled what I consider to be KCChiefs' most formidable competition in the 2011 RedLighters League. The team is a monster. Do you credit your draft or your in-season management with the Millenium Ducats' success thus far?

Amos Lee: I think it takes a solid draft and a couple lucky breaks during the year to have success. I was happy with my draft this year, especially drafting 11th out of 12. Other than my Top 2 picks of Shady [Eagles RB LeSean McCoy] and Megatron [Lions WR Calvin Johnson], I felt best about Fred Jackson in round 8 (crazy steal) and [Rob] Gronkowski (undervalued) in round 12. I drafted Felix Jones in round 3 and Jahvid Best in round 4, and both have been absent from my roster for the last month, and may not factor at all in the fantasy playoffs. A huge key to my success this year was getting DeMarco Murray off of the wire for my flex spot. He has played the role I hoped Felix or Best would, and has been a huge surprise, and maybe the biggest reason for my wins.

In addition to drafting well, and playing the wire, I've made trades. I traded Big Ben the week after his 40-point output for Larry Fitzgerald, and although Fitz hasn't been his usual high-end WR1 producing self, he is one of my favorite players in the game, and a great WR2 on a fantasy team. At QB I picked up Tebow and Carson Palmer, and I feel fairly confident that the QBBC (quarterback-by-committee) strategy may work out. Even though I like my team, I don't feel I have an upper hand in the playoff hunt because of the week-to-week nature of fantasy football. It's mostly about matchups, and I have tried to put myself in a position to win, but last season in one league I had Vick, Megatron, Foster, Hillis, Fjax, Sjax, Greg Jennings, and CJ0K, and lost in the first round of the playoffs.

AC: What the hell is a Millenium Ducat?

Lee: A Millenium Ducat? Strictly business.

AC: My tiebreaker in fantasy drafts is "When in doubt, get sick." All things equal, I will pick the player I feel sickest watching. As a Philly guy, was this one of your reasons for drafting Shady McCoy?

Lee: Your fantasy tiebreaker philosophy sounds a lot like my drinking philosophy. I drafted Shady, because at pick 11 he was crazy value. I wanted him more than CJ0K [Titans RB Chris Johnson], Andre Johnson, or any QB, and I would have taken him over Ray Rice. The only backs I would have drafted over Shady were [Arian] Foster and [Adrian] Peterson, and Foster was hurt. So for me it was a no-brainer, and picking 11 out of 12 allowed me to get Megatron in round 2, which made me happy.

AC: One interesting effect of fantasy football's growing popularity is a shift in allegiance from fans, who are now beginning to root for specific players more than a team. Have you ever found yourself rooting against your NFL team when a player on your fantasy squad faces them?

Lee: Fantasy football has tempered my maniacal fandom, but no. I don’t root against my team. I may root against a reception or carry in garbage time, but never against the team. I do find myself rooting for players in games though, and to me, the redeeming feature of this fake football fixation is that I have a much better understanding of the league as a whole. I know rosters, and coaches’ quirks, and why I might want to play certain tight ends against a cover 2, or why Houston's zone-blocking scheme is so successful. It's a great education, and it's gambling too, which would have made me a much more successful student in high school and college.

AC: Lastly, the RedLighters league is a .5 point-per-reception league. As part of the eternal debate in fantasy football, do you like PPR better than standard non-PPR?

Lee: I like any league with fractional scoring. I'm in a standard league too, and it's fine (zzz), but I like PPR because it awards versatile backs, and punishes one-dimensional players. Guys like Matt Forte, Shady, Arian Foster, and Fred Jackson who are really the best offensive players on their teams are rewarded justly. I also like that slot WRs are more valuable, because those guys take a beating. Overall I like PPR, and think that .5 PPR may be the most even formula for fantasy scoring. My opinion going forward is; as fantasy owners become more sophisticated, I think scoring should as well. As a side note, I'm also in a PBR league where you choose a wide receiver from a list and drink a beer every time he catches a ball. Last week I had Steve Breaston. Good times.

[Update: Amos Lee responds to the breaking news on Fred Jackson's injury status: "[Since finishing the above interview] it's come that Fred Jackson is probably lost for the year. This hasn't been confirmed, but it's thought that he is done. It brings up one last point, and something that I really lost perspective on. With a workhorse RB like Jackson, who is also an older back, I really should have traded him after week 8 for someone who may have been fresher. As someone in my 30s, I can barely get through a pickup basketball game without getting hurt, so for him to last through three-fourths of a season was amazing. Moral of the story: know your personnel and sell high when appropriate. I now have a big hill to climb this year losing my RB2."]

[Alex Dunlap is the host of RosterWatch on 104.9FM ESPN Radio Austin, founder of Rosterwatch.com, and a featured expert contributor to the FantasyPros.com network.]

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